GENDUSA COLUMN: The Mobile Loaves and Fishes

Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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In Travis County, Texas, near Austin, a former real estate developer, Alan Graham, resides in a faith-based community called “Mobile Loaves and Fishes.” What began as a group of small used mobile homes is now a neighborhood of tiny houses built to accommodate the homeless. Alan, who once resided in a fine home, is the founder of the non-profit development and a servant of Christ. 

To be qualified to reside in Loaves and Fishes, one must have been homeless for one year, have a disability, and be a single dweller. There are few rules because Alan discovered that almost all people will flourish with love, recognition and company.  

Travis County recognizes the success of Loaves and Fishes and is investing heavily in the program.  They see that providing hope for those once deemed hopeless and housing for the homeless is a sensible approach to easing a sad situation.  By the end of the year, there will be 500 more residents added, and the waiting list is growing. 

I learned about the community from a news program narrated by Harry Smith. *  This remarkable inspirational story also provided some pearls of wisdom for everyone to ponder. 

Within the neighborhood, the residents and Alan believe Loaves and Fishes provide evangelism without the sermon and preach the gospel with as few words as possible.  

Most inhabitants jokingly say, “We love Christ; it’s just those Christians we don’t like!”

If those remarks didn’t sit my high horse down in the pigsty, I need serious “How to be a Christian” counseling.  

The truth is that most religions can implode when humans believe themselves to be mightier than those they worship.  

How many of us drive folks away from God with our holier-than-thou attitude?  Believers are often so busy lecturing the rules and devising moral laws and judgments that our deeds can occasionally push folks up the wall of resentment.  

We all know Christian’s sin, and our transgressions are no greater or worse than those who are underprivileged. Perhaps, the privileged look cleaner, and some may appear saintly, but could there be a web of duplicity only God can see?

What we fail to understand is God’s grace. His grace is not something we earn or work to obtain but a blessing he freely gives to all. It is not up to us to decide who deserves His grace or why.

Records of new Christians have reached a low number because … well, why do we think?  Many of us are not following the examples and teachings of Christ, and we are often perceived as hypocrites and intolerant.  As people who love God, we should serve others respectfully and become fishers of men. Isn’t that our task, or did we lose our fishing pole? 

The boisterous ones who use the word of God to win public favor and power turn people away from the Lord. The quieter faithful follower who works in harmony with God’s words leads others to the cross through their actions. Those who serve the Almighty deliver hope, kindness, and understanding.

Hearing leaders espouse Christian morality while delivering hatred by the multitudes is heart-wrenching. Judgemental behavior is casting a deadly dark pall over Godliness.  

Let’s examine ourselves through the Lord’s eyes to build faith and reflect Christ.  We are no more and no less than the homeless, the disadvantaged, or any other man or woman. As Christians, we must become employees of God, preaching the gospel with as few words as possible and walking without wearing our goody-two-shoes. Remembering with each step who we are to follow and that our deeds or misdeeds are only judged by God, not man.

Going to church to worship is fantastic, but we must take what we learn there to the streets, where we do as He asked of us, to serve one another with humility and compassion.

Believers of God are to put into action His holy commandments that center around love, not judgment, giving away, not hoarding, and never ignoring a need.  

Grandpa, my grandmother, was the finest Christian I ever knew. If she saw hunger, she cooked a meal.  If someone was cold, Grandpa provided warmth. And she would give her last dime to anyone who asked for a coin.  When I was a teen, I questioned her, “Grandpa, why do you give away your money every time you pass a disadvantaged person? You are not rich!” 

She laughed and responded, “I have this change by God’s grace and give it away by His word. And besides, my riches are not held in my purse.” 

I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now.   

*NBC, Harry Smith, “A Man with a Mission.”